What Are the 4 Top Drivers of Employee Satisfaction in 2012?

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Infosurv conducts over 50 Employee Satisfaction and Engagement surveys every year.  In our experience, employee satisfaction in the US has improved in 2012 relative to 2011.  Our studies with companies across many different industries show that 78% of employees are satisfied overall, up significantly from 69% in 2011.

So what are the main driving forces behind this upward trend in satisfaction?  A key driver analysis among the companies conducting employee research with Infosurv reveals the attributes that best predict employees’ level of overall satisfaction.  These key drivers are determined by a regression analysis that takes into account the relationship between every workplace attribute and the all-encompassing overall satisfaction question.  If employers can enhance or improve satisfaction in these areas, they’re likely to see a more positive impact on employees’ level of overall satisfaction with their employment.

Let’s look at the most prevalent key drivers of 2012. In a year where we’ve seen further political and economic volatility as well as disruptive world events, paired with greater advancements in technology and a positive shift in public opinion on hot topic issues, there are many distractions occupying employees’ minds.  Companies that act on the key drivers below can refocus employees’ attention on performing at their best while also boosting their level of satisfaction:

1.  Having trust and confidence in the company’s leadership – Over the past few years, public trust in institutions such as government, media, education, and others has begun to erode.  People lack confidence in their leaders to do what’s best for them and their families.  For employees to truly be satisfied with the company they work for, we find it’s essential they are confident in their organizations’ leadership ability to effectively manage the company.  Employees need to be assured that their leaders have the right skills and experiences to make strategic decisions that will grow the company in the right direction – while also considering the interests and benefits of employees.  We recommend that companies looking to boost confidence in their leadership take steps to:

    • Regularly communicate how the company is doing, where it’s headed, and any news that affects employees
    • Address any disconnect between employee interests and company needs
    • Take action on employee feedback and involve them more in the planning process
    • Give adequate special attention to underrepresented groups

2.  Feeling valued as a person, not a number – All employees need to feel that their employer takes interest in their wellbeing, work environment, and development.  The recent rise in attention to human rights globally is a reflection of this while the rapidly advancing effect of technology leads to greater isolation of the individual in the workplace.  When employees feel they are valued as an important asset to the company, they’re more likely to contribute extra effort, provide recommendations for the company, and ultimately remain as loyal employees.  Companies can work to make their employees feel valued by:

    • Providing more opportunities for them to provide input and acting on their feedback
    • Encouraging healthy professional and personal growth opportunities both inside and outside of the organization
    • Keeping workloads  at adequate and evenly distributed levels so that employees can balance work and personal life
    • Providing employees with the appropriate level of authority to make decisions in their job role
    • Recognizing and rewarding good work appropriately

3.  Satisfaction with daily responsibilities – It may seem like a no-brainer, but there is often a high correlation between the level of satisfaction workers receive from their day-to-day work and how satisfied they are with the company.  People spend a majority of their waking day at work, and expect to enjoy their contribution to the company.  Workers identified as disengaged or even unmotivated, do not typically like the type of work they do.  On the other hand, those engaged and satisfied workers that contribute discretionary effort most often take pride in and enjoy their work.  Some ways to ensure employees are enjoying the work they perform daily are to:

    • Make certain that employees have adequate resources and training to perform their work responsibilities
    • Communicate exactly what’s expected of them and how it contributes to their department and the company overall
    • Provide regular feedback on ways to improve performance and efficiency
    • Make sure employees are comfortable in their work environment and encourage healthy relationships among coworkers
    • Ensure employees are not being overworked or stressed out. Give workers flexibility with scheduling and make sure deadlines are reasonable
    • Provide recognition and rewards for good work to positively reinforce and encourage above-average performance

 4.  Being paid fairly for the work performed – Compensation is a sensitive subject for many people– and rightfully so given the volatile economic climate and unemployment rates we’ve seen over the past few years.  Appropriate pay is a very far-reaching and impactful driver of how satisfied employees are.  Oftentimes, if an attribute related to compensation is identified as a key driver, it is because negative ratings are driving satisfaction down rather than positive ratings driving satisfaction up.  For this reason, it’s important that employers work to make sure employees are being compensated fairly for the amount of work they contribute to the company.  Employees should also be assured they’re being compensated fairly alongside workers with comparable education and experience at similar companies.  Issues with compensation can be mitigated by:

    • Acting on and communicating the results of benchmarking with employees to improve perceptions.  This includes taking steps to reduce any gaps discovered in the benchmarking process
    • Performing a salary audit to benchmark salary levels against similar companies in the area
    • Ensuring raises are linked to job performance so high performers are rewarded for their efforts

Managing employee satisfaction takes into account not only the precedence for satisfaction within a particular company, but also the influence of the macro-economic climate and public opinion globally.  Like turning around an aircraft carrier in a narrow channel, changing employee opinion takes serious time and effort, but the resulting positive perceptions lead to higher productivity, lower turnover, and greater organization success. Therefore it’s critical for companies to gauge the levels of satisfaction within their workforce and specifically identify positive and negative issues.

When companies conduct employee engagement and satisfaction research with Infosurv, we provide them with insights on the attributes that drive satisfaction and engagement as well as performance measures on each of workplace attribute.  Infosurv also delivers customized recommendations on how companies can improve the areas that are most critical to employee satisfaction.  We’ve seen companies that implement our recommendations and effectively communicate these efforts to employees experience significant increases in satisfaction and engagement.

If you’d like an overview of our proven approach to Employee Engagement, you can download it here.

If you’d like to speak with an experienced Research Solutions Consultant on how Infosurv can help improve your employees’ satisfaction contact us at (888) 262-3186 or [email protected].

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Kyle Burnam

Kyle Burnam is the CEO of Infosurv and the leader of its sister company, Intengo, where he oversees all client research and R&D projects. Having been in the industry since 2005, Kyle brings a wealth of experience to the table and an innovative eye to every project.
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